I recently coughed up the money to take the legit Strengths Finder test (2.0, I thank you). I am fascinated by personality tests, and learning where our human idiosyncrasies come from. You can call that one of my idiosyncrasies. I think that understanding ourselves, what makes us tick and what trips us up, is an important part of personal development, but also makes us better able to care for each other and interact with the world around us. I suppose this is also indicative of my stage of life… I’m in my late 20’s, and so I’m sifting through the assumptions that I have taken for granted for much of my life.

So maybe it makes sense that for my first speaking gig as a writer, speaker, and podcaster I chose to speak about “Knowing Yourself as a Key to Better Relationships.”

My church is doing a monthly series on relationships. I’ve been involved in some of the planning, and was asked to facilitate one of the sessions. I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of filters and patterns lately, so I decided that would be the angle of what I would share. The “pain point” I’m addressing is “the choices we don’t know we are making.” Basically, it’s the stuff we took on and learned about how the world works and our place in said world, through which we filter our relationships and our circumstances. Existential? Me? Never.

I picked Romans 7:15-20 to support said topic:

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

The gig is four days away and I had the thought yesterday… Why did I pick the most cerebral and existential topic possible for my very first speaking gig? I asked a couple of friends, “Why couldn’t I have chosen to talk about sunshine or something? This is so hard.” Said friends were zero percent surprised that this was the topic I chose and had zero sympathy for my predicament. OK, fair, but still.

I don’t know if you ever feel this way, but sometimes my brain drives me a little nuts. Like, can we just calm down, little brain? Why does everything have to turn into an existential moment? This is partially why I love personality tests so much. Anything that can explain what’s going on in my head and why is a relief. As much as I like feeling like the most special snowflake, it is nice to know that there are enough people who also see the world the way that I do for someone to categorize it into the latest, greatest personality test. I think that we as humans need to feel known, no matter how much it terrifies us. It’s also cool to read the descriptions of the other personality types or strengths and understand how the people around me see the world.

And honestly, it’s a huge encouragement to know that not everybody sees the world the way I do. It’s not new information that diversity of thought and perspective only strengthen any organization or group. It might be easier to insulate ourselves in echo chambers, but we miss out on that amazing part of the human experience, getting to learn from each other and connect with each other. It’s what we were made for, relationships. And it’s one of the most powerful connection back to our relational Creator.